Oh Brother

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Hi everyone.

As I have noted before, I try to be as honest as possible with my posts.

Even, perhaps especially, when it is not something positive.

I am afraid this is another one of those posts.

I finally had the opportunity to come out to my brother, F, and sister-in-law, T, today.


I came out to my parents nearly two months ago.

Before I did so, I predicted how I thought they would react.

Unfortunately, they proved me correct.

I also predicted how I thought they would proceed moving forward.

I have only written briefly about their subsequent actions, mainly for reasons of privacy (both mine and theirs), but mostly because, quite simply, I have moved on emotionally.

I will only say that, yet again, my initial impressions have been proven correct.

The same proved true today.

***

I have tried, repeatedly, to arrange to meet with F and T since telling my parents.

I attempted to contact them, by phone, by text, and by email.

I told them I needed to speak with them about an important, time-sensitive personal matter, and that I preferred to speak with them in person.

After a lengthy interval, I was rebuffed each and every time.

Their responses all arrived by text.

They never once attempted to call me.

Their responses, in essence, amounted to variations on "we're busy; you'll just have to wait."

I suspected that my mother had already told them.


I will not go into details about why I believe that is the case.

I will only say that she - my mother, that is - subsequently offered to speak to them and let them know they needed to talk to me.

In each and every instance, the context was always that I had somehow not done enough to convince them.

And in and each and every instance, my mother then failed to speak with them.

Or claimed she had not done so.

And in each and every instance she told me that I needed to do more to reach out to them.

And in each every instance I told her, politely but firmly, that was not true, and that it was now up to them to decide if and when they would agree to let me speak with them.

I have been more than patient with them.

I asked half a dozen times, each time offering to meet with them when and where it was most convenient for them.

That was more than enough as far as I am concerned.

I have come a long, long way since coming out to my parents.

For the better.

I refused to abandon my dignity and beg them to do something they should have done as soon as possible.

Regardless, the bottom line is still the same.

It was made abundantly clear to me by how F and T chose to react exactly where I stand in their estimation.

Actions truly do speak louder than words in this instance.

***

In any case, for whatever reason they finally agreed to meet with me today.

I had asked if it could only be us present.

They have two daughters, 15 and nearly 13.

I do not have children. But I feel that when, or even if, my nieces are told is F and T's decision. It is not my place to decide those matters for them.

In her text message, my sister-in-law said that they had "a little time" after returning from church when my nieces would likely be out for awhile, and that I could talk to she and my brother "before we have to head out to run errands."

When I arrived, my nieces were both there.

F and T were both polite, but distant.

It was chaotic, as it can be with my two nieces present.

Finally, after nearly 30 minutes, F, T, and I moved to the back porch.

Before I began, I explained that they could ask me any questions, at any time, and that they could be about anything at all. Nothing was off limits.

As I have done now countless times, I told them.

They sat expressionless.

They showed no reaction, other than T raising her eyebrow almost imperceptibly.

I paused, then continued, explaining very briefly the timeline of how I had arrived at this conclusion. I did not go into any details about the particular events.

I explained the Harry Benjamin Standards of Care, and what I had done up to this point.

I had spoken for perhaps 15 minutes, and was explaining about hormones when T interrupted me.

"I have to stop you here."

"I'm going to be honest; I don't want to hear about this."

She looked at my brother.

"How do you feel?"

He shook his head.

"Me either."

"You need some time," I said. "I understand. This is a lot to take in."

"Yes, it certainly is," she said.

"Would you like me to leave now?" I asked.

"Yes, we would," she said.

"OK," I said. "I will."

"But you can reach out to me any time with any questions you have."

"You might also talk with C (my sister). I think she might be able to help if you want to. I bought copies of a book written for family and friends of transsexuals that might help. She has them."

"My therapist has also offered to meet with you, individually or together, with or without me present. And I'll pay for the session, of course, regardless of whether I'm there or not."

They both shook their heads.

"OK," "Do you have any questions before I go?"

"No," said T. "But quite frankly, I have to tell you I do not approve of this."

"It's your life and you can do whatever it is you think you need to do. But I am not on board with it."

She turned to F.

"Are you?"

He shook his head.

"That's your prerogative, T," I told her. "And yours too, F."

"You have a right to know, I wanted to tell you myself, and I wanted to tell you in person."

"How you react is your decision. And what you choose to do is your decision."

"That's right, it is," T said. "It isn't yours."

"I never said it was," I replied. "As you said, I'm doing what I need to do in mine. You have the right to do the same."

My brother finally spoke, for the only time.

"Who else knows?"

I told him.

He said nothing in reply.

T spoke again.

"Have you ever given any thought about how this affects other people besides yourself?"

In retrospect, I should have stood up and walked out then and there.

That is the single most insulting thing anyone has ever said to me in my entire life.

Coming from someone who has known me for over 20 years, and a family member no less, I consider it almost unforgivable.

I paused for just a moment.

"That is what I have spent the past two-and-half years doing, T," I said. "This is precisely what we struggle with the most."

"I spent my entire life trying to be someone I wasn't to make everyone else happy."

"People like me pay a high price for doing that. You have no idea. Believe me. You don't. You can't. Thank God."

"I fought this with every ounce of strength I had for as long as I possibly could. We all do."

"And I finally reached a point where I knew I either had to take action to live as who I knew I truly was or choose to let myself die. Not literally, of course... But I was dead inside for nearly my entire life. And I finally realized I could not accept that for my life."

"But many, many people like me do choose death. Or drugs, or alcohol."

"I'm not asking you to understand. I'm only telling you this is not something I'm doing lightly."

No one spoke.

I stood up.

"I'm going to go now."

I hugged my brother and sister-in-law.

As I did, the thought flashed in my head that this may well be the last time I ever see or speak to them.

"Be sure to hug the girls before you go," F said.

"Of course," I said.

I always do.

They were in the kitchen, attempting to make brownies.

I kissed them both on the forehead.

"Goodbye," I said. "Be good. And try not to burn the house down this afternoon, OK?"

They laughed and said they wouldn't.

Then I walked out to my car, alone, and drove home.

***

I let my parents and my sister know how it went, via text, as soon as I got home.

I felt fine - and still do - but I needed time by myself to process everything.

My mother, to her credit, immediately expressed sympathy on behalf of she and my father.

She said I knew when I started that not everyone would approve - that in fact I had known F and T would not approve - and that I needed to move forward regardless. And that in fact that is what I am doing.

I will not share everything she told me.

(Not that you expect that, of course!)

I will say that I was surprised when she said that perhaps F and T ought to refrain from casting stones.

Again, I prefer not to discuss what she is referring to.

F and T are far from perfect. And so am I.

I have spent much of the past two and a half years learning that those faults, while still present, do not define me, as I had always believed.

And in fact they are balanced by a number of positive qualities that I now not only recognize, but feel are far more representative of how I try to conduct myself in my day to day life.

But my mother is absolutely correct about F and T.

As for my sister... well, anyone who has read this blog from the beginning can likely imagine how SHE reacted. :c)

"Spitting-nails-angry" comes to mind.

As I told April earlier, F and T had best be wearing flame-retardant clothing the next time they speak to her. If they dare. lol

"Oh, I like your sister, Cass!" April told me.

Me too.

:D

***

Having had the afternoon to think about the morning's events, here is how I feel.

My primary reaction was, and is, disappointment.

With, and for, F and T.

By choosing to react as they are, they are essentially ensuring they will not be part of my life as I move forward.

I know people can change.

I also know my brother and sister-in-law, just as I know my parents.

I have yet to be proven wrong.

Much as I wish I would be.

I strongly suspect that F and T's stubbornness, inflexibility, and pride, all of which have progressively increased as they grow older, will prevent them from even considering the possibility of change, or growth.

I cannot change that.

They have made, and are making, their own decisions.

I predict things are going to get very, very ugly in my family in the coming months.

F and T are nothing if not predictable.

I suspect they will refuse to attend any family events unless I attend as "him."

That is not going to happen.

Of course.

But they will force this issue.

Most likely this will come to a head during the holidays.

And I will tell you how I plan to handle this matter.

I will not be a martyr.

But I also will not punish my nieces for the sins (figuratively speaking) of their parents.

My nieces deserve to spend the holidays with their grandparents.

Just as I deserve to spend them with my parents.

But my nieces lost their other grandmother - T's mother - two years ago.

She was a lovely lady, and treated them as the light of her lives.

As for their grandfather... well, I will refrain from comment.

I know it is not fair, but if it comes down to it, I will not ruin the holidays for them.

More than one friend, unprompted, has told me in the last two months that I am welcome to spend my holidays with them.

That means more than they can ever know.

I also know my sister and nephew C will do the same.

We will see how matters unfold.

But it is wonderful to discover, yet again, how amazing my friends, my sister, and my nephew are.

I am a lucky, lucky, girl.

***

Looking back at the past two months, I have one dominant impression.

I am very proud of how I conducted myself.

I have written already about my reaction after telling my parents.

I reached out to F and T over and over, even as they made clear they were not interested, for whatever reason.

When they finally informed me they would deign to meet with me - in between their errands - I still went determined to give them every possible chance.

And even when they rejected me, and made absolutely clear how little they thought of me, I refused to  stoop to their level.

I treated them with the respect and dignity they saw no reason to extend to me.

And I left the door open for them to reach out at any point if they were ever to change their minds.

I am very, very proud of myself tonight.

I deserve to be treated as the kind, loving woman I am.

It is to their great detriment that they are consciously walking away from that.

I am moving forward with my head held high, knowing I held myself to the highest standards of behavior and decorum possible, even as I was treated with outright contempt by the very people from whom I should have been able to count on for support.

I love being me.

And I cannot wait to live full-time as myself.

I do so with pride, joy, and the unswerving belief that the best is yet to come.

***

I was unsure what music to include with  this post, if any, until I wrote that final paragraph.

Then it became clear to me.

I get to reward myself, and all of you, with some prime Stevie Ray Vaughan!

Enjoy! And do so knowing that I am bopping around my living room, in my nightgown and facial mask, playing air guitar as I listen!!!  :-p


I know what you are thinking.

Cass, that was great!!!

What could be better than SRV?

Well, let me tell you, dear reader, that Cass has the answer to that question.

How about Stevie AND Albert King???


You're welcome. :-p

***

I will end with my favorite SRV song, a lovely instrumental he wrote for, and named after, his wife. It's called "Lenny":


14 comments:

Janice on July 21, 2013 at 9:00 PM said...

Sometimes people meet the low expectations we set for them! But that doesn't change the path that you're on, which is one of integrity and honesty with yourself. Exhale now. It feels like a bad day but it will be a good day in retrospect because you're closer to your true self!

Cassidy on July 21, 2013 at 9:07 PM said...

Thank you, Janice. I actually feel this was a good day. What is important is how I conducted myself, not how F and T did.

I also have a WAY, WAY better post coming up next! Guaranteed. :D

Thank you again, Miss J! Love you, girl!!!!

Hugs & love,
Cass

Colleen Canyon, MS, L.Ac. on July 21, 2013 at 9:32 PM said...

I think you're jumping hurdles like an Olympian right now! I'm proud of you and inspired by your courage & authenticity.

Cassidy on July 21, 2013 at 10:02 PM said...

Thank you, Col. That means more to me than you can possibly know. Does "authenticity" mean I can't get an upgrade for "the girls," though? Just wondering...

;-p

Thank you, hon! Love you ttthhhhiiiissss much!!!!

Hugs & love,
Cass

April on July 22, 2013 at 12:03 AM said...

The loss of family as a result of transition is a bitter pill that almost all of us have experienced in one form or other. I know the friendships that blossom as a result of our blogs can never replace that loss but you have a host of new friends that love you precisely for being your true self.

Sorry I am rambling, its late and I can't sit at a desk for long.

Very proud of you sis.


Cassidy on July 22, 2013 at 12:43 AM said...

Thank you so much, sis. I am crying right now. :')

For those of you who do not know, April had her SRS barely three weeks ago. I cannot begin to imagine how painful it is for her to sit down at a desk at all, let alone long enough to compose this lovely message. Thank you, hon.

I am fairly certain I lost a brother today. (Or, more accurately, I never really had one to begin with.) But I have a new sister I love very much. Even if she doesn't like The Beatles post-1964.

(Hey, no one's perfect...) :D

Go get your beauty sleep, hon. Not that you need it. You are lovely inside and out.

Love you, sis.

Hugs,
Cass

Jenna on July 22, 2013 at 1:11 AM said...

Cass,

I'm so surprised that your brother took so long to get around to having this discussion. Unless he already knew what you were going to say. Let's be honest if my sister contacted me and told me that she had something that was time-sensitive to discuss I'd be worried and want to know what was up.
You could have been diagnosed with a serious illness for all you brother knew!

So proud of how you handled this. Hugs for proving your a far better person than your brother or sister in law.

Cassidy on July 22, 2013 at 1:59 AM said...

Hi Jenna,

Thank you, hon.

I am convinced beyond a doubt that they knew. They barely betrayed any emotion when I told them. And they are not the type to hide how they feel, as you have no doubt realized.

My sister had been adamant before today that they did not know. I didn't think to ask her today if she still thinks so. Not that it matters; I know to the marrow of my bones that they did.

Regardless, they took nearly two months before they begrudgingly saw me. And even then, they made it as clear as they could that they were doing me a favor by squeezing me in between attending church and heading to Wal-Mart.

It was also clear to me that my mother was taken aback at the raw, unfiltered ugliness of their actions today. She and my father have never made any attempt to hide the fact that F is their favorite.

Perhaps today, for the first time ever, they saw their golden child with new eyes.

While I am saddened today, I long ago came to terms with the fact that my family, with the exception of my sister and nephew, consider me a profound disappointment.

I have not yet written about the one period of my life - puberty - that will explain why I believe this.

I will now.

I have no reason not to. I gave them all chance after chance to be part of my life. And I will continue to do so, regardless of the futility of the gesture.

But now I need to process those long-ago events, in writing, so I can put them where they belong.

In the past.

They no longer define me.

My future now does.

And it is limitless.

It is their loss that they have chosen not to be part of it.

But thanks to people like you, Jenna, I know the best truly is yet to come.

Thank you for helping me see that.

Hugs,
Cass

LL Cool Joe on July 22, 2013 at 3:21 AM said...

You mentioned that they had just returned from church? Hmm, that could be the real issue. Don't get me wrong, I'm a practising Christian, and a good old Baptist, and have been for years, but I'm sure you are aware of how the "church" views trans issues. I know myself first hand, which is why I'm stuck in the place I am.

If they are Christians they are gonna have a hard time weighing up what the Bible says and your transition. My take on this is that Jesus has much bigger issues to worry about than whether we are male or female. And that's even clearer to me, when you realise that in Heaven gender won't be recognised anyway.

Cassidy on July 22, 2013 at 4:05 AM said...

Hi Joe!

I suspect you are right about my brother and sister-in-law.

I grew up Catholic; heck, I was an altar boy for nearly ten years! lol

But these days I stay away, partly because the same people who covered up for pedophiles for decades have no problem informing me that I am going to burn in hell. Hopefully they'll save me a good spot when they get there. :D

I'm sorry you are stuck in a conundrum that is not of your making, Joe. I think Jesus would welcome you, personally; he likes people with style and great taste in music. In any case, I hope you can find the peace you deserve.

I also could not agree more; Jesus has bigger fish to fry that little ol' Cass (or Joe), I suspect!

Thank you for the comment!

Hugs,
Cass

Calie on July 24, 2013 at 7:49 PM said...

I've been in a very sour mood all day today. I'm so angry after reading this that I can't even think straight right now.

Bigoted asses. That's what they are, and I hope they read this.

I'm sorry I said that, Cass, but that's what they are. Sadly, I doubt they will change. They're concern is how your transition will affect THEIR lives, and not yours.

I hope they will learn to accept you in time.

And, yes, you certainly handled this better than I would have. I would have walked out after that comment.

Sorry, girl, to leave such a down comment.

Love ya!

@Cool Dude - Right on!

Calie xxx

Cassidy on July 25, 2013 at 7:23 PM said...

Hi Calie,

As I wrote to you privately, no need to apologize. My sister is *still* so angry four days later that she will not answer the phone if they call the house.

I'm working on another post about dinner with my sister and nephew last night, but I will add one comment here, courtesy of my nephew: "F*** 'em. All of them. Nana, Papa, these two... Mom and I are your family."

Amen.

Thank you very much, Calie. And nice to see some of that Northeast attitude still lurks beneath that West Coast tan! lol

Hugs & love,
Cass

Jenna on July 26, 2013 at 3:03 AM said...

Cass, your nephew is one smart cookie.

Calie, my mother-in-law summoned me to her house after she'd been told about my plans to transition. She wanted to discuss it with me. When I got there she ranted and raved at me so much that I literally picked up my bag, stood up and told her that there was no point in continuing to talk so I was leaving. She immediately calmed down so we could have a more reasonable conversation. If she'd not then I'd have walked out the door.

Cassidy on July 26, 2013 at 3:48 AM said...

Jenna, he certainly is.

He has good reason to feel that way about the other two. (That is how I refer to them. They do not deserve to be referred to by name as far as I am concerned.)

The other two have always treated my nephew horribly. And they treated my sister the same as soon as she became pregnant with him.

Their reasons are... well, I will only say that they are utterly contemptible. And utterly consistent with how they treated me.

I was not aware of the extent of how badly they treated, and treat, my nephew until very recently. As you can imagine, he has nothing but contempt for them. And rightly so.

Personally I would have no problem specifying *why* the other two act that way toward him, but my sister and nephew deserve their privacy. (They are unaware I write this blog.)

I never saw eye to eye with my brother. And as far as I am concerned, he and the other one crossed a line with their treatment of me that I is unforgivable. I am through with them.

I will end by saying that I strongly suspect that they are going to reap what they sow in a few years. No specifics, but yet again my nephew and I were on the same wavelength about this at dinner. The universe has a way of evening things out in cases like this. We can both see it coming.

Thanks, Jenna...

Hugs,
Cass

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